Rail strikes disrupt weekend plans across the south of England

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Bournemouth Train Station
Image caption,
No trains will be arriving at Bournemouth during Saturday's industrial action

The third day of train strikes have caused disruption to people's weekend plans across the south of England.

No trains are travelling to seaside resorts such as Bournemouth and Weymouth in Dorset, while elsewhere services are severely restricted.

It is the first weekend of walkouts since industrial action began, with some people reporting they had been forced to cancel long-held plans.

The union is picketing over job cuts, pay and working conditions.

Passengers have been urged to only travel by train if necessary.

Those with pre-booked tickets for Saturday are able to travel on Sunday or Monday instead, or claim a refund.

However, this does not help those who had booked tickets months ago for specific events.

Image caption,
Peter Smith said his plans to go to a concert in London had been scuppered

Peter Smith, from Alton in Hampshire, told the BBC he had decided not to travel to Ed Sheeran's concert at Wembley because of the lack of trains.

He said he had already spent money on the train tickets so could not then pay more for fuel, especially given recent price hikes.

"It's horrible to make a decision to not go - I'm gutted," he added.

Roads and other public transport are expected to be busier than usual as passengers seek alternatives to trains.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The owner of the Whistle Stop cafe in Cosham said sales had fallen since the strike began

Sue Hills, who owns the Whistle Stop cafe next to Cosham station in Portsmouth, said she supported the striking rail workers despite it impacting on her income.

"Sales are obvious down a bit but I do appreciate they have got to strike - it's the only way people at the top of the ladder are going to actually listen to them," she said.

"We appreciate they've got to do what they've got to do but it does also affect the small businesses that are trying to survive as well, so let's hope they manage to sort it out."

'We're stuck'

Posting on Twitter, Marc Almond, who lives in rural west Dorset, said not all areas have bus routes.

"We're stuck when there are no trains," he said.

Services on the Isle of Wight are running as normal as union members there voted against industrial action.

National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) is looking for a pay rise of at least 7% and assurances of no compulsory redundancies.

But the government argued the action would "keep hamstringing the country", and said the union should "agree a deal to bring our rail industry into the 21st Century".

Union bosses have warned more strikes are likely if a settlement cannot be reached.

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